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How to prepare a 4x4 for snow driving

By Matt Raudonikis, 14 Jun 2019 Gear

How to prepare a 4x4 for snow driving

Stay safe on the slippery alpine slopes by following these simple steps.

AS THE cold snap hits and the white stuff falls in the higher parts of the southern states, many of us are getting excited about wheeling in the snow.

However, alpine driving in the snow poses a few specific issues to look out for. Here are a few quick tips on how to prepare your 4x4 for snow driving.

HOW TO: Drive on snow and ice


TO cope with the harsh climatic conditions of winter, your vehicle needs to be in top mechanical condition. Things to look out for include the antifreeze in your cooling system, the condition of all hoses and lines, battery performance, wiper blades, lights, heater/demister performance and the tread on your tyres. Make sure they are right before you leave.

4x4 with lights on


IT’S compulsory to carry tyre chains in all Victorian alpine parks – it’s recommended in NSW parks – even if driving a 4x4. Buy or hire your chains well before you venture out and make sure they fit correctly. Practice fitting them in your driveway before you leave, as it’s a lot easier than learning in the cold, wet slop on the side of the road. Remember to carry a tarp that you can put on the ground when you are fitting the snow chains.


THE old Boy Scout slogan applies even more so in the extreme cold. Anything can happen and the weather can change very fast, leaving you stranded for any amount of time. Be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags and extra food and water, should you get stuck on the side of the road.

4x4s in the snow


YOU might think it’s chilly in town, but it’s a lot colder up in the mountains. Thermal underwear, fleece and down jackets, gloves, a good beanie and a waterproof over layer will all be essential if you have to spend time out of the car in the snow. Even if you’re not skiing or boarding, ski wear is ideal for these conditions.


WHEN driving on a snow-covered or frozen road, take it slow. Gentle steering and subtle brake and accelerator inputs are needed to maintain control of your 4x4. Increase the gap between you and the car in front to allow a greater stopping distance. This will give you more time to react to an obstacle. Never plough into snow drifts if you don’t know what’s inside them, as they could be hiding rocks or even a car.

Look out for signs


IF you’re fuelling up your diesel 4x4 before you go, be sure to include an alpine fuel additive. Fuel stations in the mountains will sell Alpine Blend Diesel, but the stuff you get in town is just the regular stuff. Alpine diesel or additives prevent the paraffins in fuel from solidifying and clogging up in the system.

Follow these simple steps and remember to take your time on the roads to ensure you have an excellent alpine adventure.